TRENDS, MOVEMENTS, ZEITGEISTS. They‘ve never been part of anything close to an agenda as far as Teenage Fanclub are concerned. They’re just good time boys making good time music who have witnessed the like of Texas and Travis tugging on their coat-tails before sweeping past them. moving on to world supremacy and critical loathing. Teenage Fanclub are the Queen Mum of
Wo'ds: Brian Donaldson
Scottish indie and not even the fishbone of fashion will kill them off.
‘I don‘t think anyone in the band is into dance music.‘ Raymond McGinley — Teenage Fanclub founder member and bassist/writer/ occasional vocalist — is telling me something we already know well about Glasgow‘s brightest ray of pop sunshine. Not that the band are being deliberately contrary (you suspect a negative vibe has never been felt around their collective body) but merely following their own musical path and personal taste.
‘lt‘s got so. that I don‘t know what the categories in dance music mean anymore and I’ve got the feeling that a lot of people who are into it don’t know either.’ People who are into Teenage Fanclub. however. know exactly where they stand. The band burst onto the Scottish music scene in l99() — having advisedly switched names from the very 80s Boy Hairdressers to a more timeless title — with the organised mayhem of Catholic Education before settling into the lazy. hazy. Big Star. Beach Boy-tinged loveliness of
Bandit'agonesque and Thirteen.
With their reputation made and pigeonhole labelled up by the backlashing music press. subsequent releases Grand Prir and Songs F rom i‘v’orthern Britain have consolidated their appeal. Their archetypal fan is loyal. hardcore. and passionate but that broad base has steadfastly refused to budge wider. The high turnover of membership in the band —
Blind ambition and ruthless enterprise have never been their bywords. As they get set to play GLASGOW GREEN, TEENAGE FANCLUB insist they just want to have fun.
alongside lead singer Norman Blake. McGinley is the only one to have stayed with it from the off — indicates less a tyrannical regime than a band which is good to involved with fora while.
That sense of having fun rather than making a ton comes across in conversation and on record. Yet their lack of chart— bothering and serious unit-shifting is all rather baffling when you put the Fannies up against those with whom they have a Celtic connection. You hardly require a huge leap of the sonic imagination to get from 'Turn' or ‘Driftwood‘ to the likes of ‘Sparky‘s Dream’ or ‘.\'eil Jung‘.
McGinley remains less than aggrieved at fate's dealing. ‘That kind of success either just happens to somebody or doesn't. Travis have been successful. partly because a lot of money must have been spent promoting them. but people in this country have just decided that. at this point in time. they like them. If we were selling no records and had no money then I think we might me more miffed at other
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people selling more but if you ever think consciously about it then you might stop it from happening..
So. here we go again with another pop- happy. chart-avoiding (maybe) collection. The forthcoming Howdy.’ has very TF-esque titles such as ‘I Can’t Find My Way Home‘ and ‘The Sun Shines From You’ and ‘I Need Direction' alongside less generically familiar and almost pes- simistic names. ‘My Uptight Life‘ and ‘Dumb Dumb Dumb'. The sound is just as you like it. 'lt's hard for me to talk about it because I've heard it so many times.‘ notes McGinley. ‘To us it's different: not that we sit down and agree to go another way. Still. I find it hard to define what's different from one record to another.‘
For one particular audience. the difference made by Teenage Fanclub was marked. Cast your mind back to 1995 and there were the band fulfilling a lifelong non-ambition to appear on Top Of The Pops with hit single ‘Ain’t That Enough‘. A hit for Teenage Fanclub means reaching number seventeen in the fab forty. ‘We didn’t think we did ourselves justice on it. really. but we get recognised by tasi drivers now. so it's almost as though we‘ve had that rite of passage.’ recalls McGinley. ‘Robbie Williams and Alisha's Attic were on it and it was weird with all these teenagers being told to scream at us. They were probably thinking “Who are these old guys'.’ When is Robbie on?” I don‘t know: kids these days.
Teenage Fanclub play Glasgow Green, Radio 1 Evening Session Stage on Sat 26 Aug. Howdy! will be released on Columbia in September.
17—24 Aug 2000 musrs